Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized the Congress party on Monday, accusing them of indulging in dividing society on the basis of caste lines when they were in power at the Centre and alleged that the grand old party continue to do so.
The Congress on Sunday demanded the resignation of Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw over the triple train accident in Odisha’s Balasore, alleging that the incident was “man-made” devastation caused by “utter negligence”.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters here, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera along with Shaktisinh Gohil said, “India is in deep shock after the country’s most catastrophic train accident. Odisha’s triple train tragedy has resulted in the loss of precious lives, over 1000 injured.”
He said the Congress expresses its heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families.
“As a responsible political party, we are providing all possible help and assistance to the victims. Our leaders went to the ground on the very night of the accident. Our frontal organisations are providing all possible help. Our state governments have also provided requisite assistance,” Khera said.
Hitting out at the government, the Congress leader said: “This is not a natural calamity. This is man-made devastation caused by utter negligence, serious lapses in the system, incompetence, and a narcissistic sense of know it all attitude by the Modi government, clubbed with high decibel PR which exposed the hollowness at every level of railway governance.”
“Unequivocally and unambiguously, we demand the resignation of Railway Minister Vaishnaw. Nothing short of it,” Khera said, making clear the stand of the party.
He said the Congress has numerous concrete reasons to demand accountability by the Modi Government, citing several reports flagged by the railways and the CAG.
The Congress leader accused the government of criminal neglect of the ‘signalling system’, despite multiple warnings.
Meanwhile, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has also demanded the resignation of Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw over the triple train accident in Odisha’s Balasore.
In a tweet, she said: “More than 24 hours have passed since the horrific train accident in Balasore, Odisha. Shouldn’t the accountability of the people sitting on top positions be fixed on human and moral grounds?”
“Who is responsible for ignoring the warnings and suggestions of experts, parliamentary committee, CAG report? Whose responsibility will be fixed for the vacant posts in Railways and lack of funds in important areas? Following the ethical path of Lal Bahadur Shastri ji, Nitish Kumar ji, Madhav Rao Scindia ji, shouldn’t the Railway Minister resign?”
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge also launched a scathing attack on the BJP-led Centre over the triple train accident in Odisha’s Balasore, accusing it of only flagging off newly whitewashed trains instead of focusing on the rail safety, and also sought “accountability from top to bottom”.
He also highlighted several reports of lapses on the part of railways including the failure to fill some crucial posts.
In a series of tweets, Kharge led the attack on the government and said: “Questions to the Modi government on perhaps the most painful train accident of Independent India — Advertising PR gimmicks have made the working system of the Modi government hollow.”
Firing salvos at the government, Kharge cited several reports that said, “Three lakh posts are vacant in Railways, the posts of big officers are also vacant which the PMO fills, why were they not filled in nine years?
“The Railway Board itself has recently admitted that long working hours of loco pilots due to acute shortage of manpower is the main reason for the increasing number of accidents. Then why were the posts not filled? The Principal Chief Operating Manager of South Western Railway Zone urged and warned to repair the signalling system on February 8, 2023, citing a tragedy in Mysore in which two trains were saved from collision. Why didn’t the Ministry of Railways implement it?”
“Accountability of the posts from top to bottom has to be fixed so that such accidents can be prevented from happening in future. Only then the victims of this accident will get justice,” Kharge said.
In one of the horrific tragedies, at least 275 people died while over 1,000 were injured when 21 coaches of two — Coromandel Express and SMVP-Howrah Superfast Express — and a goods train collided and derailed on Friday evening near Bahanaga Bazar Railway station in Odisha’s Balasore.